Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Estrada) vs Giants (Barry Zito)

He probably does terrible impressions, too.

Note: With a day game after a night game, our starting mugger is getting a break.

Everyone knows that Barry Zito (3-1, 3.00) has an albatross contract, but what some may not realize is that he is quietly having a pretty good year. He's never been a big strikeout guy, and his steadily dropping K/9 is down to 5.25 this season. He's also never been a guy who is great at not giving up walks as his 3.94 BB/9 is slightly higher than his career norm. But he's been having success at not giving up many home runs. A .232 BABIP also helps a lot, as not many hits are falling against Zito. That's bound to normalize, and will eventually lead to him giving up more runs. Hopefully today.

Barry Zito once won a Cy Young. Everybody knows that and everybody thinks it's strange, but I'm still taken aback by that fact. Even more so when I realize that Zito has been in the league for 13 years, now, and that Cy Young season was ten years ago. Where have the years gone?

Zito has already been falling back to Earth recently. After not giving up more than two runs in his first five starts, he have up three in each of his next two and four in his last start. That trend can go ahead and continue.

Zito throws six different pitches: An 80 MPH cutter (24% pitch selection), an 84 MPH two seamer (20%), his famous 71 MPH curve (17%), a 78 MPH slider (17%), a 75 MPH change of pace (13%), and an 84 MPH four seamer (10%).

He has faced four Brewers hitters at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA LIne
Corey Hart 18 .400/.500/.600
Ryan Braun 16 .385/.500/1.308
Aramis Ramirez 15 .308/.333/.615
Rickie Weeks 14 .250/.357/.333

I have been a vocal opponent of having Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.63) in the rotation. I'm one of the Wily Peralta sympathizers. Since joining the rotation, Estrada has made five starts and has a 4.97 ERA. He has just a 1.24 BB/9 in those starts and a 7.75 K/9. That's nice! He also has just under a 2.5 HR/9. That's really bad. Really really bad. It's as bad as television shows where a kid who barely knows how to talk is being made to live their parents dream of being a beauty queen. Maybe not that bad.

That home run rate is going to be very difficult to keep up. Maybe if it comes down he could be a serviceable starter. Maybe he's just easier to see as a starter and opponents can get great swings on his pitches. Even if his HR/9 comes down, though, it needs to come down a lot. Remember how bad Bronson Arroyo was last year because he had such a terrible time trying to keep the ball in the park? He had a 2.08 HR/9. Remember how much we all couldn't stand Braden Looper in 2009 because he gave up so many home runs? He had a meager 1.80 HR/9 this year, 0.70 below Estrada's current rate.

Oh, and Estrada's .255 BABIP probably means he'll get hit more in the future, too. Goodie.

Estrada isn't even close to having faced a current Giants player at least ten times.

Lineups:

1. Angel Pagan (S) CF
3. Melky Cabrera (S) LF
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Joaquin Arias (R) 3B
9. Barry Zito (L) P
1. Corey Hart (R) 1B
2. Norichika Aoki (L) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Aramis Ramirez (R) 3B
6. Rickie Weeks (R) 2B
7. Carlos Gomez (R) CF
8. Cesar Izturis (S) SS
9. Marco Estrada (R) P

And in the bullpen:

Juan Perez pitched one inning (22 pitches) last night, and has appeared in four straight games. He's the anti-Tim Dillard.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (25 pitches) last night.
Manny Parra pitched two innings (33 pitches) Monday.
Jose Veras pitched two innings (28 pitches) Monday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (25 pitches) Monday.
John Axford pitched one inning (24 pitches) Monday.
Tim Dillard pitched .2 innings (8 pitches) Sunday.

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